Sunday, 9 July 2017

TLFG: 10-16 July 2017

Greetings and welcome to this week's TLFG.

First up can I say thank you to all those who sent kind comments on the blog's return last week and to everyone in general for continuing to read - it got some of its best traffic ever last week. It goes without saying that without the positivity you send me I wouldn't bother so cheers!

I was working all kinds of anti-social hours this week so didn't get to see any live football but I know some of you did and it was good to see your pictures and comments on Facebook and Twitter.

One of the biggest football related stories of the week was the sad passing of young Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery from neuroblastoma, a form of cancer. 

Alerted by his and Newcastle fan Frankie Sherwood's plight a few months ago, I looked into becoming a blood platelet donor and after several failed attempts at getting through the screening process (administrative errors rather than health), I went for my first donation session on Wednesday.

Find out more - one donation can help up to 3 adults or 12 children with cancer

Tucked away at the back of St George's Hospital in Tooting is a special permanent blood donation centre where you can do regular blood donation, platelets, plasma and quite possibly other things too.

After a health screening, members of the team tell you what to expect, explain the process and show you the machine that will carry it out.

Unlike blood donation where they take about a pint out, with this process they take out the blood, filter off the platelets and put the rest back into you.

In total I was wired up to the machine for a little over an hour but was supplied with regular cups of tea and had live tennis from Wimbledon on a large TV to keep me entertained. You can bring a tablet, phone or other entertainment equipment if you wish.

In all honesty I did feel a bit spaced out during the procedure and for up to an hour afterwards but I was back to normal after that.

Apparently platelets don't last as long as blood so they have to be used quickly, but donors can give platelets far more frequently than blood - every two weeks in some cases, though most people leave it a month.

If you've never given blood or would like to try donating platelets I urge you to look into it. It really doesn't take that much effort and literally keeps people alive whether they've been in an accident, are going through chemotherapy or had a tough time giving birth. I even read about one person whose rare condition meant that fresh blood would stop her going blind. The list is of people you could help is long.
Right that's enough of tugging at your heartstrings - in other football news this week...

As we all know, Tottenham are temporarily moving to Wembley for the 2017/18 season while their new stadium is built. 

Earlier this week they announced that they will play a friendly against Champions League finalists Juventus there on Saturday 5 August at 530pm. Tickets for the game are on general sale now

Aside from all the friendlies taking place this week, we also have the Star Sixes at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich. I'm not really into 'Legends' matches or tournaments and don't usually cover them but this does look like quite a big deal with some pretty decent names so if that's your thing check out the event's website for more information.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with three Premier League and several EFL sides playing friendlies.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.

A fine summer read if football tactics are your thing

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG TOP 10
In the following section I list what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

1. AFC WIMBLEDON v WATFORD
The Dons get their pre-season underway with a visit from the Premier League Hornets. The south-west Londoners had a better than expected campaign last year and were within touching distance of the League One play-off places until the latter stages when they fell away. Watford did really well just to avoid relegation and a third consecutive season in the top flight is some achievement. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

2. BARNET v SWANSEA CITY
The Bees recorded an impressive 5-0 win at Maidstone on Saturday as their preparations for the new season got off to a flying start. Next up they've managed to land a prestigious friendly against Premier League opposition which should be a lot tougher. How strong a side the Swans field is unsure but it is listed as a first-team game on their website. (Wednesday 12 July, 745pm. Club info)

3. MAIDSTONE UNITED v CRYSTAL PALACE
One of the hottest tickets of the week is for this match in Kent. To celebrate five years at the Gallagher Stadium, the Stones have lined up a visit from the Eagles and it has completely sold out. If their performance against League Two outfit Barnet is anything to go by, we could get a cricket score! (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

4. PETERBOROUGH UNITED v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
This game is quite a way north of London and wouldn't normally make the cut but it does because it features a London club and the train ride from Kings Cross takes only 45 minutes - the stadium is then walkable from the station. League One club Peterborough drew 0-0 at non-league St Albans on Saturday whilst QPR played two and lost two squad games against Reading behind closed doors. Games between these two are rarely classics but it gives you the chance to get out of London and explore what is a cathedral city. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

5. CAMBRIDGE UNITED v NORWICH CITY
Like Peterborough, Cambridge is a fair distance outside London but it too can be reached in 45 minutes from Kings Cross. The city is also a fine destination in its own right, with its world famous university and museums, so could make for a good summer day trip with a bit of football thrown in. The U's missed out on the League Two play-offs by just four points last season and are 4-1 to get promoted this time. Norwich finished eighth in the Championship and will hope for at least a top-six place this year. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

6. WELLING UNITED v CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The annual pre-season clash between these two south-east London neighbours takes place on Saturday. Both sides have had a rocky couple of years but both consolidated their respective positions in the National League South and League One. With only a few weeks to go until the big kick-off, the bookies think it could be a good year for the Addicks with most offering odds of 5-1 on them getting promoted. If you can't make it to this game or want a double helping, Charlton are also playing another game against Greenwich Borough, a short journey away, later the same day at 730pm. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

7. DARTFORD v GILLINGHAM
Tony Burman's side held Millwall to a 1-1 draw on Saturday and next face a derby against fellow Kent club Gillingham. The Darts will be hoping for at least a play-off place in the National League South this season while the Gills will probably be more than happy with a midtable finish after finishing just above the League One relegation places last time. (Tuesday 11 July, 730pm. Club info)

8. CRAWLEY TOWN v CHELSEA XI
Harry Kewell's side thrashed East Grinstead on Saturday but should face much stiffer opposition from whichever squad the Blues send to Sussex for this one. With none of the big stars likely to play, we should get an opportunity to take a look at some of the young talent that Chelsea usually have stockpiled behind closed doors at their Cobham training ground. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

9. EBBSFLEET UNITED v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR XI
The Fleet won the National League South play-offs last season to return to the fifth tier after four years away. On Saturday they welcome a squad from Spurs and are hoping for a big crowd as all profits will be donated to the Paul McCarthy Memorial Fund - the previous Ebbsfleet captain and assistant manager died suddenly at the age of 45. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

10. SJP COMMUNITY CUP
Taking place over Saturday and Sunday we have a four-team competition being hosted by Hendon at their Silver Jubilee Park ground. Alongside the Greens, you'll get to see sides from Hayes & Yeading United, Hemel Hempstead Town and Hitchin Town. The semi-finals get underway at 1pm on Saturday with a third-place play-off and final from 1pm the following day. To top it all it's only £5 a day to attend. (Saturday & Sunday 15/16 July, from 1pm. Club info)

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GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground within the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

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